How to Avoid Gluttony Without Being Fanatical

Scrupulosity Video Post

Jaimie Eckert

Published on Jan 25, 2023; Updated on Jan 25, 2023

The deadly sin of gluttony is one which most conscientious Christians wish to avoid. But highly conscientious Christians can sometimes take this avoidance to extremes! Thus, it’s important to learn how to avoid gluttony without being fanatical.

Let me give you a few examples so you know what I mean when I speak about spiritual food-related restrictions being taken too far.

One mother reached out to me because her 18-year-old daughter was in the pediatric hospital, forcibly hooked up to a feeding tube. She had made a vow to God that she would not eat until she had completed an impossible-to-complete spiritual task. Unable to fulfill her vow, she continued to fast until she had lost an alarming amount of weight. Finally, her mother intervened by taking her to the hospital.

Another young man found himself battling endless, looping thoughts about the foods that he ate. Was he allowed to eat all kinds of meats, or only clean meats? When should he actually stop eating in order to avoid gluttony–should he stop when only 75% satiated, or was it sinful to reach 100% fullness? How could he tell the difference between 100% and 101% fullness, and did that little bit extra constitute gluttony? If “the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit,” was he sinning if he ate a cookie instead of an apple? He found his thoughts constantly revolving around what he would eat next, and he began to worry that he was idolizing food. He avoided his favorite foods and ate an austere diet, trying to prove to God that he wasn’t worshipping his belly. This young man was tall and slender. He couldn’t afford to lose much weight. But the more he obsessed about food, the more he reduced his food intake, and the more he panicked about disobeying God. It became an ever more vicious cycle.

Another man, also with a normal, healthy BMI, didn’t have elaborate obsessions about food, but he struggled with a raw feeling of guilt every time he ate. He knew eating was a normal, healthy activity, and he did his best to make healthy choices. But every time he sat down to eat, he felt a looming sense of condemnation. He felt especially bad when his wife prepared his favorite dishes. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but “pleasure” and “enjoyment” made him feel like a bad Christian. He fasted often to “make up” for tasty meals, and tried his best to eat without enjoying the food too much, just so that it wouldn’t count as gluttony.

Enjoying food as a gift from God

Do you see yourself in any of these examples? If so, I’d like to invite you to come along on a journey through Scripture with me. Let’s go to God and ask about food, fasting, and feasting. We’ll ask how to avoid gluttony without being fanatical, and we’ll search for the true spirit of the law behind the Bible’s admonition about appetite.

How to Avoid Gluttony: Two Extremes

There have always been two extremes in the way human beings relate to food.

The first extreme is gluttony and over-prioritization of food. At this end of the spectrum, appetite becomes the all-consuming power and motive force. It is one of the markers of “the enemies of the cross of Christ,” as Paul writes, “whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly” (Philippians 3:18-19).

But let’s remember that appetite begins as a neutral thing. Appetite is that little urge within that says, “I need food!” At its most basic level, appetite is nothing more than a physical (and sometimes emotional) manifestation of a real need.

We need appetite, otherwise we will never eat, and if we never eat, we’ll die. In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with appetite.

But when appetite goes out of bounds and overwhelms the power of reason, it becomes a bad thing. This is when gluttony is born. Gluttony occurs when appetite hijacks reason.

As we try to figure out how to avoid gluttony and control the carnal nature, some people attempt to subdue the appetite. When done in an unhealthy way, this can lead to our other extreme, dietary fanaticism.

Highly conscientious and spiritually-minded humans all around the world have tended towards this dietary fanaticism, which takes a strong flavor of rigidity and asceticism. It is not a new phenomenon, nor does it only occur in Christian countries. It is said that the Buddha, in his path towards spiritual enlightenment, lived such an austere life that he would eat a single grain of rice in a day. This has been lauded by his followers as a statement in favor of moderation–for, they say, he could have gone to extremes and eaten nothing at all!

Christians, too, have their famous ascetics. Many of the saints became famous for their pious, austere lives of prayer and fasting. A legend about Saint Nicholas (yes, the Santa Claus one) said that even as a baby he refused to drink milk from his mother’s breast on Wednesdays and Fridays, as these were days of canonical fasting. Saint Basil said that “by fasting we satisfy God.” There was much focus on food as the original agent of temptation and man’s duty to overcome the base appetites and urges. Most of the early Christian ascetics were, in general, legendary for their feats of self-denial and self-control.

How to avoid gluttony when you have scrupulosity

Take, for example, Simeon Stylites, a Christian ascetic who was so extreme in his self-denial that he was kicked out of a monastery. So, he went and built a pillar for himself, about 10 feet tall, with a tiny platform on top. He then lived on top of this pillar, nonstop, for years. He fasted, prayed, and performed bodily exercises. Later, as pilgrims came to seek his prayer and advice, he built a taller pillar, 50 feet in height. Can you imagine standing 50 feet in the air, day and night, eating just enough food to sustain life?

Historian Edward Gibbons described Simeon Stylites by writing,

In this last and lofty station, the Syrian Anchoret resisted the heat of thirty summers, and the cold of as many winters. Habit and exercise instructed him to maintain his dangerous situation without fear or giddiness, and successively to assume the different postures of devotion. He sometimes prayed in an erect attitude, with his outstretched arms in the figure of a cross, but his most familiar practice was that of bending his meagre skeleton from the forehead to the feet; and a curious spectator, after numbering twelve hundred and forty-four repetitions, at length desisted from the endless account. The progress of an ulcer in his thigh might shorten, but it could not disturb, this celestial life; and the patient Hermit expired, without descending from his column.

Edward Gibbons, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter XXXVII

Simeon’s story provokes a strange kind of awe, but his motives and purposes are not always easy to interpret. We do know that other monks sometimes felt that his provocative behavior was motivated by pride, and at times they attempted to test his motives. To me, it also seems a bit odd that the more pilgrims came to seek his prayers and support, the higher he built his pillars to get away from them. He would allow some pilgrims to climb a ladder to get his prayers and advice, but women were not allowed close to him. That seems slightly odd for someone devoted to God’s service. And instead of blessing the world through service, Simeon was dependent upon others to pass what little food he ate up to him via a rope and pulley. That seems a little strange. What really motivated Simeon’s extreme behavior?

What motivates ours?

It’s true that self-denial forms a part of the Christian consciousness. If you’ve not heart Simeon’s story, you’ve surely heard of others…Saints who gave away all their possessions to live in chastity and poverty. Missionaries who gave their bodies to be burned. Evangelists who prayed all night and fasted till miracles happened.

Self-sacrifice is a powerful Christian theme, but it can be taken to extremes. (Hint: fasting on top of a pillar till the day you die.) If placed on a spectrum, our two extremes in relating to food would be, at the one end, gluttony, and at the other end, dietary fanaticism.

But self-denial, fasting, and abstemiousness are biblical, aren’t they? How do we find balance? How can we learn how to avoid gluttony without being fanatical? Let’s take a closer look at biblical principles for self-denial, especially as it relates to our appetite.

What Does the Bible Say About Food?

The Bible talks a lot about food. Probably more than you would suspect. There were famines, feasts, harvests, and festivals. God rained manna from heaven, sent quails by the thousands, and led the Israelites to a land flowing with milk and honey. His prophets got food delivered by ravens, they turned poisonous soup edible again, and they created unending barrels of flour and vats of oil. Jesus told parables about dough, wine, salt, grapevines, grain, bread, water, and the way God feeds the birds of the air. If we were to count all the types of food referenced in the Bible, we’d be hard pressed: figs, olives, grapes, almonds, raisins, wheat, barley, mutton, beef, fish, quail, eggs, wine, apples, cinnamon, garlic, cucumbers, leeks, onions, and on and on.

Surprisingly, most biblical references to food are positive ones. They speak of God’s blessings upon harvest and kneading bowl. They speak of God’s desire to take His people to a land of abundance, where He calls upon them to receive His bounty.


I am the Lord your God, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt; Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.

Psalm 81:10

Surely, there are warnings about indulging the appetite beyond reason. For example, Proverbs 23:2 warns us to

…put a knife to your throat
If you are a man given to appetite.

Proverbs 23:2

There are obviously negative consequences anytime we indulge ourselves beyond reason. Too much food, too much sex, too much sleep, too much work, too much play…even too much water can be deadly.

Somewhere, there must be balance. We must learn how to avoid gluttony without being extreme.

How to Avoid Gluttony: Seeking Moderation

The word “moderation” is not found in most modern English translations of the Bible. In the King James Version, Philippians 4:5 says to “let your moderation be known to all men,” but newer translations render the original word as “gentleness” or “reasonableness.”

The idea of moderation, however, is found all throughout Scripture. Let me give you just one food-related example: honey.

In Proverbs 24:13, Solomon encourages us to eat honey. “My son, eat honey because it is good; and the honeycomb which is sweet to your taste.” But in Proverbs 25, he adds some comments that moderate the former one.

Have you found honey?
Eat only as much as you need,
Lest you be filled with it and vomit…
It is not good to eat much honey;
So to seek one’s own glory is not glory.

Proverbs 25:16, 27

We see both positive and moderating comments about honey: eat it, because it’s good. But eat only as much as you need. Don’t eat too much.

It makes me wonder if the ancients understood some of the medical issues related to high glucose levels, like diabetes. Did their children have ADHD and find themselves hyperactive and unable to concentrate when they got too many sweets? Did sweet and fatty foods cause acne breakouts for them as for us? Were there any people getting obese from too many honey cakes?

dietary moderation in the Bible

(Archaeologists have found Egyptian recipes on old broken pottery describing the desserts they used to eat. Ancient honey cakes, which were a type of fried pocket of dough stuffed with honey and nuts, sounds suspiciously like a fried-and-sugared Little Debbie pie…)

Eating honey is good. Eating too much honey is not good.

The Bible sounds so common sense to me.

Practical Problems With Gluttony

As far as I know, the Bible never says “enjoying your food is bad, because you’re not supposed to enjoy earthly things that much.” No, overeating is not bad because God doesn’t want us to have enjoyment.

Rather, gluttony has practical everyday consequences that our loving God wants us to avoid. One of these practical issues relates to productivity.

For the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty,
And drowsiness will clothe a man with rags.

Proverbs 23:21

The problem here presented is that gluttony and drunkenness leads to poverty. The parallel thought on the second line is that “drowsiness” (which follows drunkenness and overeating) clothes a man with rags. Extreme lack of self-control will be seen in decreased productivity and a consistent inability to work.

Think of an alcoholic husband. Most likely, his wife and children wouldn’t mind too much if he goes to have a roaring good time with his friends every now and then. But what pains them about his alcoholism is the fact that he can’t keep a job, he doesn’t consistently bring groceries home, and they have to move houses every few months. These are the damaging consequences when we lack self-control. This is what it looks like when our appetite has overrun reason.

Contrast this to the highly conscientious person, who wonders if God will judge them for having a single piece of lemon pie.

It’s a bit of a stretch to compare the two, don’t you think?

Gluttony usually produces practical consequences, which may be either medical or financial. But a healthy appetite can enjoy appropriate amounts of good food without suffering ill effects.

As we learn how to avoid gluttony in a balanced manner, it can be helpful to consider the practical “fruits” of our lifestyles.

Eating for the Glory of God

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31

Many people with food obsessions have worried severely about this passage. They worry about whether their food choices are glorifying God.

Let’s first remind ourselves of the overall context of this passage. Notice carefully that it doesn’t say “whatever you eat or drink,” it says “whether you eat or drink.” The little word “whether” indicates that this verse is part of a broader story in which someone was wondering whether they should or should not eat.

Eat what?

The context speaks about food offered to idols. Paul clarifies that it doesn’t really matter if you eat food that was consecrated to idols before being sold in the meat market. “The earth is the Lords,” Paul says. The meat belongs to God, not the dead idol, and the Christian can safely eat it. But of course, he recognized that some people have a weak conscience and would be uncomfortable eating such meat.

It’s a gray area issue, and Paul leaves it up to each believer to decide for themselves. This is the original context.

But, the passage can have a broader application as we attempt to apply the spirit of these words in our modern-day context. We can see to eat, drink, and do everything in life for God’s glory. Doing all to God’s glory holds an important lesson for learning how to avoid gluttony…But what does God’s glory actually mean?

Developing a healthy relationship with food as a person with religious OCD

“God’s glory” is clearly defined in the Old Testament. You’ll remember when Moses went up into Mount Sinai, and he prayed to God, “Please, show me Your glory” (Exodus 33:18). And what did God show him? Was it a flash of lightning, blinding rays of rainbow color, or an earthquake that made his bones rattle? Was it a demonstration of power and majesty?

Nope. That’s not what God’s glory is all about. Listen to God’s words:

Then He said, “I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the Lord before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” But He said, “You cannot see My face; for no man shall see Me, and live.” And the Lord said, “Here is a place by Me, and you shall stand on the rock. So it shall be, while My glory passes by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock, and will cover you with My hand while I pass by. Then I will take away My hand, and you shall see My back; but My face shall not be seen.”

Exodus 33:19-23

God promised to make His glory pass by so that Moses could see at least part of it. He promised to make His glory pass by and to declare His name. He got Moses all cozy in a cleft in the rock, then, watch what was revealed when God passed by:

Now the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”

Exodus 34:5-7

Can you see? The glory of God is His name, His character. It is an expression of who He is in His inmost being. It is His heart, revealed in qualities that can be understood by our feeble human frames.

Whatever we eat and drink and do should rightly represent God’s character in the world around us. To eat or drink to God’s glory is to represent Him properly by the way we shape our lifestyles.

The highly conscientious person may immediately think, “If that is the case, I must eat a very austere diet.”

But wait–why?

Does that not express a faulty view of God’s character, painting Him as stingy and restrictive?

Of course, the opposite extreme is to let our appetites run riot. As the scales creep upwards and our arteries fill with cholesterol, we are saying, “God is served just as well by a sick person as by a healthy person. He doesn’t care.” That, too, is an incorrect representation of God’s character.

(Although, let me just put in a side comment here, since this blog is mostly read by people with a diagnosed mental health condition: please remember to differentiate between food-related weight gain and medication-related weight gain. I would hate for you to condemn yourself for something you can’t help.)

Here’s a way of relating to food that I think would help us learn how to avoid gluttony and also glorify God at the same time:

I LOVE eating! I am so thankful that God gave us delicious food and tastebuds to enjoy it. I know that food was one of the original blessings in Eden (Genesis 1:29) and was an innocent enjoyment in the perfect, unfallen world. I want to glorify God by the way I eat, so I first and foremost want to express my pleasure and delight at God’s generous gift of food. He promised to provide for us, just as He feeds the birds of the air, and I praise Him for the bounty that fills my refrigerator and pantry. I choose to prioritize healthy, nutrient-rich foods that I know will power my body effectively. This allows me to experience God’s original blueprint for healthy living. It expresses my belief that God wants me to be healthy (3 John 1:2).

I choose to eat in moderation, eating appropriate amounts and at appropriate times. This expresses my belief that God wants me to exercise self-control. But I also am joyous and free in enjoying special treats make life sweet. I love a good dessert from time to time. When I sit down with a luxurious slice of cheesecake, I thank God for it. Times of feasting interspersed throughout a life of healthy moderation are enjoyed even more keenly than the glutton could ever experience. I do not need to feel guilty for taking pleasure in my food, because my enjoyment expresses my belief that God loves me and wants me to experience happiness (Ecclesiastes 9:7, 1 Timothy 4:4-5).

How to Avoid Gluttony: Important Principles

Now, I’d like to share a few principles on avoiding gluttony without goign to extremes. The following are not in any particular order of importance. They are:

  • High levels of enjoyment do not necessarily equal idolatry
  • Christians should avoid using food as a “spiritual test”
  • Fasting is not recommended for people with eating disorders
  • Balance, balance, balance

Enjoyment Is Not the Same Thing as Idolatry

Many scrupulous people have a difficult relationship with pleasure. Anything that gives them enjoyment feels suspect, as if they are creeping close to the edge of a dangerous cliff. Too much enjoyment must equal idolatry and worldliness! But self-denial and sacrifice–misery of any kind that feels somewhat spiritual–will earn us favor with God.

This week someone with scrupulosity said he felt like he was idolizing food whenever he enjoyed a meal. Last week someone else told me he couldn’t buy anything, not even tools to repair his house, because it felt worldly and too material to buy things. Others have told me that they worry about idolizing a boyfriend, a baby, or a house.

And while I recognize that idolizing things, activities, and people can be a real thing, I think we need to be extremely careful not to confuse “enjoyment” with “idolatry.” Do you know that enjoying life in healthy ways is a gift from God? The Bible says,

Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God.

Ecclesiastes 2:24

Obviously, there are implied boundaries in this passage. It implies that you are living a productive and useful life (labor), and it implies that you’re living an honest, moral life (enjoy good in YOUR labor, not stealing or oppressing to benefit from someone ELSE’S labor). But in the correct context, enjoying the good things in life is from God. Didn’t He promise “life, and life more abundantly?” That sure doesn’t sound like galling chains around your neck. But if we can never let ourselves enjoy God’s simple gifts, aren’t we declaring that? Aren’t we saying that we serve a God who delights in making us miserable?

How to avoid gluttony as a Christian

When I grew up, my parents used many types of creative punishments to keep us in line. Once, when I was very small, I was assigned the chore of feeding our dog. I had to scoop dog kibble out of a big bag and fill up our dog’s dish. My dad wasn’t happy that I kept spilling kibble on the floor. He told me I need to pick up what I spill, and for whatever reason, I didn’t.

Finally, after much admonishment and little behavioral change, my dad decided he needed to help me remember the lesson. One day, he told me that I had to EAT all the dog food I had dropped and failed to pick up.

And so I ate the dog kibble.

(In case you’re wondering, it’s not very tasty.)

I never held it against my dad in any way–I actually thought it was pretty creative of him, because it did fix the problem permanently. But once, I was relating the story to a friend. When I told her my dad made me eat dog food, she recoiled in shock and disgust.

“He WHAT? That’s horrible! No child should ever have to eat something like that!”

Her reaction surprised me, but it also helped me learn something about God. What are we expressing to others about our heavenly Father? We go around eating dog food when He wants to give us the fatted calf. Will it not make others recoil in horror, saying, “If that’s how your God treats you, I don’t want anything to do with Him?”

Enjoyment is not idolatry. In its pure and holy form, enjoyment is a side effect of God’s great love for us, gushing earthward in an ever-deepening tide of surprises. When we truly see God for who He is, and our minds are overwhelmed with the greatness of His love for us, we will understand the folly of thinking we could idolize something like food.

If you fear idolizing food, instead of beating yourself up and eating dog food, try something different. Try looking up and gazing into the fullness of God’s love. Everything else will settle into its correct place when we keep our eyes fixed upward.

And when we are fully convinced of His love for us, we’ll be able to enjoy His good gifts without so many feelings of condemnation.

Christians Should Avoid Using Food as a Spiritual “Test”

Do you ever feel like food is a “test” from God? As if He’s always dangling some dainty in front of you to see if you’ll bite–and if you do, it “means” something about your love, loyalty, or devotion?

It’s true that there are some biblical examples of food being used as a test. For example, the devil tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread. The widow of Zarephath was faced with something we might call a “test.” Give her last morsels of food to the prophet of Israel, or use them to feed herself and her son.

But these tests can hardly be compared to the types of “food tests” that people with scrupulosity complain about. For us, it tends to be a constant, non-stop test at every. single. meal.

Some people with religious OCD get intrusive thoughts while they eat. Of course, these thoughts sound just like what we think God’s voice sounds like.”

If you love Me, don’t eat lunch.

You should be fasting today. If you don’t fast, it will tell Me that you are backsliding.

Prove that you are willing to give up anything for Me. Don’t eat that piece of garlic bread.

Bible examples of food-related tests might have come to those people once in their lifetime, like Jesus and the widow at Zarephath. There wasn’t a daily circus for them to try discerning God’s voice. The fact that spiritual food obsessions never go away is just more evidence that this is probably the byproduct of an overactive, obsessive brain.

Jesus didn’t say, “if you love me, refrain from eating a good diet.” Jesus said something much less ambiguous, something that anybody can understand without confusion. He said, “If you love Me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). God’s Word as expressed in Scripture is the safe ground where we can know God’s will.

Knowing His will about that piece of lemon pie? It’s probably just something you need to use your own principles and common sense to make a decision for yourself. Try not to see every morsel of food as a divine test.

Fasting is a biblical practice and can be a real blessing. But it’s not on the same level as prayer and Bible study. When we read the New Testament, we actually see that Jesus and His disciples did not fast. Jesus indicated that His presence overruled the need for fasting.

Then the disciples of John came to Him, saying, “Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but Your disciples do not fast?”

And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.”

Matthew 9:14-15

Jesus never instructed His disciples not to pray or study the Word, but apparently He felt that fasting was not necessary as long as He was with them.

I say this only to indicate that fasting may not be as strict and hardcore as people with disturbed and over-sensitive consciences make it out to be. Here, I would like to make a recommendation. I do not have a specific Bible verse to prove this point, but see if you follow my logic.

I believe that people with eating disorders should not fast. At least not now. Not while there’s an active eating disorder. And not for at least a few years after that person has gone through recovery for their eating disorder and has become totally asymptomatic.

Trying to fast when you have an eating disorder is just a way our brains try to neurotically justify the compulsive eating and non-eating patterns. It’s okay to step back and get healthy before reengaging with this spiritual discipline. Otherwise, we might be getting the “letter of the law” while entirely missing the “spirit of the law.”

Please don’t fast if you have an eating disorder.

How to Avoid Gluttony: Balance, Balance, Balance

Learning how to avoid gluttony hinges on our understanding of balance. Balance is NOT:

  • Eating very sparsely when you feel condemned by God and then binging uncontrollably when the bad feelings are gone
  • Restricting yourself to an unsustainably strict diet where your nutritional needs are consistently unmet
  • Constantly obsessing about food to the point where you can’t eat a meal without analyzing it to death

We are concerned about idolizing food or dishonoring God with our eating habits–but these kinds of behaviors is not how to fix the problem. If we want to learn how to avoid gluttony, we must seek a healthy place of balance, moderation, and consistency.

Remember what Paul wrote to Timothy about people who are

…forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

1 Timothy 4:3

Are we commanding ourselves to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving? Or are we receiving food in a spirit of fear and trembling rather than joy thanksgiving? Yes, the Bible talks about gluttony and self-control, but it also talks about enjoying good food and thanking God for it!

Christians can experience pleasure from their food

It’s all about finding balance.

Here’s my best recommendation for finding balance when it comes to spiritual issues about food: think about food less.

Instead of hyper-analyzing and obsessing about what we do or don’t eat, why not redirect our minds to better topics? Paul said,

…the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Romans 14:17

Make some positive decisions about food choices, and then, stop thinking about it so much. Move on with life and don’t let the matter fill your mind.

Conclusion

Our relationship with God is about so much more than food. I know it can be hard to enjoy eating if you’ve developed a pattern of thinking that God is “testing” you or wants you to prove you’re not worshipping food. But I really do believe food was supposed to be one of those simple, everyday pleasures that brings us joy.

I hope some of the principles we’ve talked about can help you in learning how to avoid gluttony without going to extremes. Yes, find moderation and healthy balance. But don’t go to extremes. Extremes don’t glorify God–but a happy, healthy, balanced believer can certainly make a positive statement on His behalf!

I’ll remind you again of the verse we read just a moment ago: the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

As you seek balance in your relationship with food and fasting, I hope you’ll discover the bountiful outpouring of God’s righteousness, peace, and joy.

Our Father in Heaven loves you…He is preparing a wonderful feast for us to all celebrate at the great consummation of all things. Jesus Himself said He would not drink the fruit of the vine until we all drink it together in the kingdom. He’s planning a wonderful celebration–and there will be lots of food and beverages involved!

Let’s look forward to that day by partaking of God’s “abundant life” right now.

Best wishes on the journey,

jaimie-eckert-signature
  • This year of recovering from an eating disorder taught me I was dealing with religious OCD. It led to extreme dieting/fasting, where I felt God kept instruction me to give up certain foods and anytime I completed these fasts and restrictions, I went back to normal eating but felt loads of guilt and emptiness like I was offending God and He wanted me to go back on a restive fast, that really isolated me. It got so bad to the point where I stopped eating for 17 days under the guise of a 40 day fasts, and ppl around me (my boss, family, two pastors and a few church memebers) became concerned about my health/weight but I was too far gone to stop, believing this is what God wanted me to do, and they are trying to distract me from my fast. Also, this thought of "40 days, raw leafy green veggies" or "40 days, water only!" was literally rehearsing in my mind day in and out during this time, that it made me scared to disobey that voice. I did not want to do it but also began to be under that distorted mindset about how food is temptation, that I began to like not eating. This is a scary mindset trap to fall under, especially since during that time I was seeking God /His voice intensely. Some bible studies/sermons I went to, "prophetic insights" spoken over me, along with scriptures I read, encouraged these extreme behaviors ad thoughts, but when bringing up these thoughts to other leaders and pastors, I'd get confused looks. It started to make me wonder if I was more spiritual than them. The devil literally distorted my mind and it led to me being super isolated, too hard to reach to be bought back to reality. Thankfully, I came back home, almost less than 90 pounds, health complications, dropping out of college before grad. Thanks be to God my family talked me out of it. There were many times where I would cry out of angst not wanting to do this extreme fast for God, but kept hearing voices. Or mad that when I tried to eat again, it's as if He was punishing me with digestive symptoms, but later on I realized the enemy still distorted my thinking and these thoughts were easily believable to me due to my lack of nutrients! It wasn't until I stumbled across Mark Dejesus on YouTube speaking about Religious OCD that I finally found SOMEONE who understood intrusive thoughts, excessive fasting, fear over unfufilled prophecies spoken over you, obsessing about God's will,fear that I am constantly disobeying. burdened to do God's work, and having a terrible God filter. I realized I had been struggling with intrusive thoughts my whole life that went from keeping me up at night as a child repenting about 100 times for blasphemous, evil, sexual thoughts, to imposter syndrome, to now excessive fasting and and obsessing over sprituality and calling.
    I'm so happy that I also found this webpage that details similar things that I been through or can relate. I wish more ppl knew about this!

  • Thanks for this Jamie,
    I’ve struggled with what to eat/not eat for years, even fearing for a while that if I eat something “not healthy” it was a form of blasphemy because I wasn’t taking care of the temple of the Holy Sprit. I know now that is not true even though my mind plays tricks sometimes and tries so convince me otherwise.

    God freed me from that kind a thinking for a few years but recently I’ve begun struggling with it again.

    “What if God doesn’t want me to eat anything that might not be healthy for me?”

    “What about Romans 14 that talks about not eating or doing anything from a doubting conscience? Whatever is not of faith is sin.”

    How do I as someone with OCD eat a cookie or enjoy food that’s not “perfect” if I’m always in a state of doubt over it? I know in my heart that food is an area of Christian liberty and I don’t think it’s morally wrong to eat unhealthy foods in moderation. But I also feel afraid and doubt if God wants ME to eat. What if He’s asking me not to?

    The verses about destroying a weaker brother scares me! If I’m the weaker Christian because my conscience tells me don’t eat, and I go ahead and do it, am I not sinning?!?
    What does destroy mean anyways? That sounds drastic.

    I want to do what is right but also feel so burdened about it too. Any insight would be helpful. Thank you!

    • It is clear that you are spinning about this topic of eating unhealthy foods and trying to discern if you are the weaker brother with the weaker conscience. Well to others looking at Religious OCD mindset, it would seem so. However, go back to the chapter also posted from Romans ( 14:14), where Paul talks says" I know and am convinced by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself; but to him who considers anything to be unclean, to him it is unclean. " PLEASE FORGIVE IF THIS IS TRIGGERING. But a point that I like about this verse is that Paul is convinced that NO FOOD is unclean through Jesus. We should adopt this mindset too. Just as you have adopted the mindset that unhealthy dishonors the temple of the Holy Spirit, you have the power to change that mindset by backing it up with scripture in it's context. Take it from me who used to obsess about Daniel Diet and only eating veggies that when I ate anythig else, even healthy, I was FILLED with loads of guilt I thought was coming from God. But I learned God does not speak to us through guilt. Also, no one on this earth, will be punished for using the same measure of free will God gave them, just as He gave every human being. It is not fair to think God has a target on you to make you feel terrible for eating unhealthy food, but other believers or people don't feel God is restircitng them. That would make Him an unjust/ unfair God, He does not hold anyone higher because of their rituals(Romans 14: 6&7). He is honored by both the same. Yes there are people that restrict form healthy eating, but let this be a way to honor God, not out of fear that you are the weaker minded Christian or are eating out of doubt. The doubt paert had more to do with eating food sacrificed to idols at that time(hence unclean food talked about in verse 14, NOT unhealthy foods). Even these foods sacrificed to idols are not bad in itself, it is just the intent of eating them. Remember all food comes from God or was given creative insrpiratin from Him, people just distort it's purpose. That's not to say unhealthy food gets 100% pass, no we are to take care of our temples, but not int the extreme that the minute you ate an imperfect cookie, or had fast food that you are disrecpting the temple of God. Shoot, eat what you want and of course use practicality to take care the exercise and blalncing between healthy and unhealthy foods. God WILL NOT punish you for eating unhealthy. Man, I remember Jesus himself broke a "food ritual" because His disciples were hungry and were nibbing at grain during Sabbath day BECAUSE THEY WERE HUNGRY AND I BET IT TASTED GOOD, but the pharisee accused them of breaking the law… Did Jesus start to feel like He offended the Father and destroyed His temple, and mind you He was breaking a Mosaic law!!! Nah, he bought up the example of David eating showbread from a temple while running away from King Saul, BECAUSE HE WAS HUGRY. there was no time to think about rules and rituals, yet these are the greatest man talked about in the Bible, one of them being the Son of God Himself!!!
      Your midset has you ruminating about being the weaker vessel, unfortuantely due to OCD, but remeber this is a mindset and you can change it. Focus your mind on the joy of the Holy Spirit, and remember God isn't super concerend about eating habits, than your faith just like the outlined by the author of this post in Romans (14:14)

  • Thank you for your thoughts!
    Do you think its okay for a christian to count calories? It helps me a lot to eat not too little or too much.

    • Generally, I’d say sure! I know a lot of Christians who count calories or are on diets of various kinds. I’m in my last month of pregnancy right now and although I don’t count overall calories, I count how many grams of protein I’m getting every day, and years in the past I’ve also counted calories when I want to lose a few pounds. The only issue we might run into is if we get so intense about it that it becomes obsessive-compulsive (which can easily lead to spiritual extremism or an eating disorder). But if you’re using calorie-counting as a tool for basic balancing of your diet, and making sure to eat well from all the healthy food groups, I don’t see any problem with it!

      • Thank you very much for your answer! At the moment i feel permanently very sinful when i do it, because i am afraid that eating might have become too important to me. I have been suffering from ocd and scrupulosity for a long time and maybe the extrem guilt feeling comes from it too.

        • That sounds like a reasonable explanation–OCD over a long time can create some pretty deep grooves in the brain. OCD can make pretty much any normal activity seem sinful if it’s A) important to us, B) something we do often, C) something we find enjoyable, or D) any other reason that can get our brains nervous. Notice that your comment mentioned how you “feel” sinful when you count calories. That’s a good tip that this might be OCD! Sin is clearly defined in Scripture, but scruples are based on feelings and sentiments that cannot necessarily be sustained by the Word of God!

          • thank you very much for your thoughts on this.
            So far I have not been able to talk to anyone who understands my struggle and that was hard for me. i will read more articles from your blog. Blessed that I found it today!

  • Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to share these thoughts. Not my particular challenge but very informative.

  • I so admire how you tackle these important topics head-on!

    I think this topic has been made trickier by increased access to world news, where we are more aware of food shortages than perhaps a typical person in Bible times would have been. I had a period a few years ago where I was struggling with eating anything because other people needed food more than me, and intrusive thoughts about the world's ills were part of that. (I also work on legislation in a city with a famous homelessness problem, so I am regularly reminded on the job of these ills.)

    The Bible simply doesn't put global/regional awareness on our figurative plate. Having it is good if we use it for good. But if it is making our lives difficult, no principle instructs us to keep that awareness around. Ultimately, we're not going to be THAT much more actually informed by reading 2 news articles and 8 tweets about world events; we'll just be keeping up with the people who claim they are informed.

    • THIS is so relevant. Global awareness puts a very sticky spin on Christian living. But we can’t save the whole world, we have to just be active Christian witnesses in our little corner of it.

  • Thank you for letting God use you to write this article, all the glory goes to Him and Him alone, i really needed to read that, i was praying to God about this earlier in the day because i was feeling reallly condemned but God answered my prayers through this article and that gave me a better perspective and understanding on my relationship towards food and God. This means a lot to me, Thank you again and God bless you.

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